It’s a simple notion – when individuals thrive, organizations succeed. Fundamentally, it makes a lot of sense. The most productive employees are the ones not dwelling on their financial situation, not constantly dealing with health issues and not feeling trapped in their careers.
As employers, we offer wellness, benefit and compensation programs to attract and retain ideal talent. But perhaps just as critically, we offer these programs to enable ideal physical, financial and professional outcomes for our people. Done right, ours is a noble profession, creating a win-win for both our employer and the individuals we serve.
Achieving that shared victory requires us to take a step further than we have in the past. Administration now needs to be focused on outcomes, not just actions. Technology must do more than just simplify processes, it must compel users to do the right thing. Analytics, too, must measure both the business and personal impact of the programs we offer.
Purpose Trumps Process
When we look at the state of the marketplace today, we see most vendors offering ways to help individuals and organizations address the “how” of getting work done. What we don’t see enough of, is the “why” someone would want to take the action in the first place. Encouraging the right behaviors, choosing the right programs, using those programs for the best end results and measuring outcomes instead of transactions should really be the focus. And, it should be delivered in ways that help differentiate employers, engage employees and extend distinct brands through better experience.
The HR technology landscape is littered with best-in-breed administrative services for specific HR needs, but until recently, has lacked providers able to bring it all together. To that end, we’re seeing an explosion of service providers offering tools to integrate services and create singular experiences.
It can’t simply be about tying these services together in one pretty wrapper to make processes easier. If we simply make it easier for employees to take online learning that doesn’t align with their career goals or pick benefit plans that aren’t right for their health and wealth needs or go through a performance review without coming out with any actionable means for improvement – the individual and the organization are no better off.
We need to assure that each individual is getting the right training, enrolling in the right programs, receiving proactive job guidance for productivity value to the organization and individual value to the employee.
The shiny new technology toys for improved processes alone don’t drive ideal behaviors. Better outcomes demand that we first organizational and individual objectives.
No Such Thing as a Best Practice
Organizations clearly want the best talent possible to deliver on their mission. When done right, that mission is tied directly to their distinct employee value proposition. And just as there’s no such thing as a best practice for employee value proposition – every organization must differentiate on their unique EVP – there’s no such thing as a best practice for employee engagement.
Just as important, no two employers have the same talent goals, so the right eco-system for one organization may not be right for the next. The HR needs of a global software developer are very different from the goals of a mid-sized Midwestern manufacturer. While there are plenty of processes and transactions that can be repeated behind the scenes, the means to entice and motivate talent requires a very organization-specific mix.
Along with our distinct employer brand promise, we must also appreciate that there are millions of distinct employee expectations. In other words, the best employee experience is what’s right for the individual we serve. Our diverse world demands that we treat each individual uniquely, using channels, content, tone and data aligned with each person’s expectations.
Human centered design helps achieve this audience of one focus. The continuum of design experience starts with generic, which can be valuable for top-down communication, but not much else. Persona-driven models help narrow ideal experience, but still run the risk of being overly stereotyped. Personalized models assure individual data, including historic interactions, is used to create a meaningful experience through the ideal channel with the right messaging and tone.
Contextual experience provides the added benefit of applying relevant work and life events for a hyper-personalized approach. The more contextual, the more valuable to the individual and the more likely it will result in ideal outcomes for both the user and the organization.
The best hub experiences deliver this contextual construct, coupled with employer-tailored branding and back end analytics to assure we’re driving the right behaviors and measuring the right impact. Machine learning through artificial intelligence assures the experience becomes more and more personally relevant and meaningful across multiple underlying systems.
This approach allows organizations to take a best-in-breed, adjustable approach to vendor selection while maintaining consistent user experience, process flow and metrics.
Unblocking the Blockchain
Of all the innovations in the HR industry, the one that will likely have the most profound impact is Blockchain. While we may not see extensive practical application of blockchain in 2019, we do expect a significant amount of research energy focused on it.
The more personal we get with experience; the more danger is introduced in how that data can be compromised. HR needs to continue to be stewards for the people we serve and the personal data they entrust with us. There’s phenomenal value to the individual with the massive amount of data HR can access – from biometrics to claims to financial holdings to career planning – but plenty of risk with how we use that data to guide and educate.
Blockchain brings necessary control to the individual to assure their data is being used the way they want. Since each entity in the chain needs to “sign-off”, users can control the degree of personalization of their experience. It also opens up the possibility of data outside HR’s control, such as personal holdings, genomics, volunteer initiatives, spiritual interests and even hobbies to complete the picture of what matters to a person for complete life management.
Blockchain also allows these interactions to become more real time. Delays related to nightly valuations, bi-weekly pay cycles and brick & mortar working hours will someday soon become obsolete.
More than buzzwords, technology advances in AI, blockchain and advanced analytics are helping us deliver on what might be called “precision engagement.” By engaging individuals where they are in their lives, and where they’d like to be, we as employers can claim that shared victory. Our employees thrive and our organizations succeed.